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Check out this post and learn How to Grow Hops in your own garden! This unique plant is a crucial ingredient in beer and is surprisingly simple to grow, even for amateur gardeners!
Growing hops at home is pretty easy and the vine adds plenty of visual interest to your garden. A fast grower, the vine will set hops the first year. The hops themselves can be used to brew a batch of homemade beer. Check out this guide and learn how to grow your own hops!
What Are Hops?
The term hops refers to the cone-shaped green flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus. Hop cones contain lupulin glands, which are the primary source of flavor, bitterness, and aroma in making beer.
Though hops do have both male and female plants, only the females are typically used in commercial hops production. When it comes to getting your own hop plant garden started, it may be wise to separate male and female plants whenever possible.
When it comes to hop variety names, many of the classifications are based on a few categories, such as geography, the name of the farmer recognized as their first cultivator, or growing patterns.
Hop vines can grow up to 15 or 20 feet tall, so be sure to allow ample space for growth. Use some kind of strong trellis or other support system to give your hop vines the best chance of flourishing.
When it comes to growing season, most varieties of hops will begin to bloom in the summer. Plant them in the early spring, but late enough to avoid any frosting. About 6 months without frost are necessary for your hops to properly flower.
How to Grow Hops
- You can buy a vine in a container so you don’t have to grow from seed. Hops like fertile soil, although I would not do very heavy amending. Typically, you’ll start from hops rhizomes, which are root cuttings from mature female hops plants that will grow from a stem into their own plant.
- Add some compost to the planting hole. Unless your soil is terribly poor, the hops will grow fine.
- Hops will benefit from frequent light watering, so be sure to keep a close eye on the plants and their moisture level.
Growing Hops on a Trellis
Since hops grow from a vine, they need some type of support. Plant the hops where it has something to grow along. A wire fence or strong trellis is ideal.
Really think about whether you want to plant a hops vine close to your house. The vines grow quickly and they grow thick.
They can easily get under vinyl siding or grow up along wood siding until they find something to cling to.
During the earlier months of the growing season, the vine will just pour on the growth. Seriously. They grow FAST. Since it is a perennial, it will come back every year. Wouldn’t this be absolutely beautiful growing up a pergola?
It would provide a beautiful shaded seating area in the summer.
Look how many hops there are growing on this really healthy vine. Hops grow very quickly and you will need to prune them several times during the growing season. We prune all the new shoots, leaving only about 4 to grow for the season.
The photo above shows the hops in mid summer. Many of the hops are still closed but they will grow and get quite a bit larger before they are ready to be harvested. Allow them to twine up whatever structure you’ve set out for them as undisturbed as possible.
Tips on Caring for Hops
- For best results, grow your hops in part-sun or direct sunlight if possible, and plant them in well draining soil.
- When choosing a place to plant, choose a nice fertile soil. Manure or organic fertilizer can be helpful for providing additional nutrients like potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen.
- If you give the hop plant a good location for establishing its root system, it’s more likely that this perennial will continue to produce year after year.
- Choose soil with a pH level in the window of 6-7.
- Weed control can be achieved with some light mulch or straw spread on top of the soil.
- In the early stages of growth, keep your hops nice and pruned to aid in air circulation and reduce threats like pests and potential disease.
- Hop plants are most commonly plagued with aphids, spider mites, or a powdery, downy mildew. The number one way to avoid these issues is to water only as necessary. This often means watering sparsely but often, and is the reason why well draining soil is important.
These are still growing and so are not ready to pick yet. You can easily tell when they are mature. If they feel flat between your fingers when you squeeze them, it is too early.
Mature hops will be quite dry. When you squeeze and then release them, they spring back to their natural size easily. They will feel kind of papery and dry.
This is when they are ready for harvest. In many climates, this will happen sometime around August or September.
For your first harvest, I recommend doing it by hand. Pick them carefully to avoid breaking the hops and releasing all of that crucial yellow lupulin.
Vacuum seal dried and harvested hops to be stored stored in the freezer. This will maintain freshness after they’ve been removed from the bines.
Hops Add Vertical Interest to your Garden
Since we don’t use the hops for home brewed beer, we just leave the hops on the vine. The vine looks really beautiful all summer long, but in the Fall, it really becomes striking to look at. These hops have been left too long on the vine to use but they still look beautiful.
The vine will die back in early winter here. At that point we cut it all back to the ground and burn the leaves and hops. You could do this in spring if you would rather. New shoots will come out of the ground and start again.
Each year the roots will become stronger and stronger. If you need to keep the hops contained somewhat, you need to be vigilant about pruning it hard.
Hops is a beautiful vine that you can grow to add great visual interest to your yard. In Winter, it looks pretty with snow on it. It grows fast in spring, sets the hops in early summer and they grow until fall.
More Posts You’ll Love
- Want to add some flowers to your yard? Here’s how to create a beautiful flower bed.
- Here’s a homemade recipe to kill poison ivy and other weeds
- Rhubarb is an awesome perennial, especially for northern gardens. Here’s how to grow Rhubarb.
- This is a great additional resource with information about hops.
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